Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) met with elementary school kids and officials in Salinas today to talk about getting more fresh fruits and vegetables served in schools.
Farr's office says he'll introduce legislation next month that would get school districts buying more produce through the commodity program they now use to buy food for school breakfast and lunch through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His spokesman, Tom Mentzer, says the bill would direct $50 million a year from the commodity program for fresh produce.
The Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary School, for students in kindergarten through third grade, has a salad bar, and used stimulus funds to buy refrigerators for storing produce, says Lorelei DiSogra, vice president for nutrition and health of industry group United Fresh Produce Assn., who also was at the school today.
Salad bars, Mentzer says, "are one of the best tools to get kids to eat fresh vegetables."
"Children learn about the food pyramid, but for years schools have failed to provide enough fresh fruits and vegetables," Farr said in a statement. "Last year's Farm Bill, which provides $1.2 billion to expand the fruit and vegetable snack program nationwide, is the first significant sign that priorities are changing."
And while children learn in school that they should eat lots of fruits and vegetables, they don't get enough of them to eat, he says.
Farr's legislation is one of several concerning childhood nutrition that will be considered as Congress looks toward reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act later this year.
-- Mary MacVean
Photo: The salad bar at Jesse G. Sanchez, with some costumed teachers and staff. Credit: United Fresh Produce Assn.